Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


Exaltation of the Cross Sunday
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
September 14th, 2014
Year A

During this past week, the Diocese of Springfield was blessed with a visit of the relics of St. Anthony of Padua. St. Anthony Maronite Church in Springfield hosted the relics, did all the work to ensure the visit and provided several opportunities for Mass, confession, lectures, and so on. Monday evening of last week was a celebration for the Diocese of Springfield. Many came to Mass, to venerate the relic and to pray for St. Anthony’s intercession. Our new bishop, Mitchell Rozanski, was the principal celebrant and homilist. In his homily, Bishop posed this question to the congregation: “What would you do to save the world?” He noted that if it were up to him, he probably would come up with a grandiose plan that would get international recognition. A plan that would be a large scale victory for all humanity. It would be something so big that one would be hard-pressed not to notice. He formed this question in relation to the birthday of the Blessed Mother, whose feast was September 8th – last Monday. He noted how God’s way, His way of thinking is not our way. He thinks and acts on a different level. For He could have saved the world through a plan like one that you and I would think of but chose another path – the path of humility, suffering, and love.

This is precisely what this feast is all about – the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. We hold up today as the means of our eternal salvation an instrument of torture. Something so completely horrifying, by God’s doing, has been transformed into a means of redemption. It is a reminder that Christianity is not an abstract religion. It springs forth from God’s intervention in the affairs of the world – a real historical event involving real people and in the end, a real execution on a real cross. Take all that away and Christianity is nonsense.

In this real, historical event – what does God’s intervention reveal? St. John writes in the Gospel today: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” Thus, He reveals that salvation comes through humility, through self-donation, self-giving, a sacrificial offering that can only be described as love. He reveals the horror of sin through the brutality of His torture. He shows us that sin condemns, not God. Pope Paul VI in a homily delivered on Corpus Christi in 1976 reminds of that: “All our religion,” he says, “is a revelation of God’s kindness, mercy and love for us. ‘God is love’, that is, love poured forth unsparingly… Each of us must repeat it for himself – He loved me and gave himself for me.” All of the disciplines and doctrines of the Church can be summed up in this: love. It is out of love and for love that God shows us the way to His heart, to becoming one with Him and reaching the goal of our faith – eternal life. And He does so by means of His cross.

Too often we get this confused. Many people in the world today think that it is God or the Catholic Church that condemns, that blames and points the finger at individuals. Yet these words of Jesus and the wisdom of Pope Paul, prove that method of thinking wrong. It is not God who condemns, it is not the Church – it is our sins that condemn us, it is what we do to ourselves. The cross reveals the horror of our sins, the cross strips sin of the romanticism that we give it and from that same cross is revealed the true mission of the Church, the true desire of our God – reconciliation with Him, salvation and eternal life. It is on the cross where He reveals His own plan of salvation, of how He saved the world – through humility, sacrifice and love. We cannot ever know better than God. We cannot think that we will gain eternal life by choosing our own way. Therefore, on the cross, He waits for us to respond in like manner – in humility, self-giving, and the kind of suffering that puts to death our sins and chooses love above all else.

We don’t have to save the world, we don’t have to save ourselves – we can’t. Our salvation lies in the Cross of Jesus Christ. Though we may stumble and fall, though we may not always get it right or be perfect – Jesus fell three times under the weight of the cross, the symbol of our sins, He got back up and forged ahead knowing that His mission must be accomplished. His goal must be achieved. If we walk this path of humility, suffering and love, we walk with Jesus. We walk the via crucis and we walk, not in the way of condemnation, but rather in God’s way of salvation and peace.

Therefore, let us condemn our sins, just as Jesus condemned sin on the cross, by practicing self-discipline and penance, by going to confession, by way of prayer and going to Mass. Let His love and forgiveness be the motivation we need to lift high the Cross in our daily lives.


Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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